Lydia Garnett tells stories about characters of all kinds, “especially fearless, fuck you types”
Their recent film documents Finn – the founder of Both&, a clothing brand and community that designs for trans-masculine and gender non-conforming people – as he narrates his story.
- Dalia Al-Dujaili
- 18 November 2021
London-based Lydia Garnett isn’t concerned with following the mainstream in her work. In fact, they encourage a challenge to the status quo: Lydia’s work is about making people feel seen and heard who she thinks don’t get to hold the mic very often, or for very long.
Beginning their photography journey at sweet 16, Lydia was able to document “characters of all kinds, especially fearless, fuck you types,” creating images that “felt honest, spontaneous and invited you in,” she tells us. As a teenager, she used to rip pages from magazines and plaster them on her bedroom wall and ceiling, “so you couldn’t see anything but faces staring back at you. I made a fantasy world for myself where I felt surrounded by free spirits.”
When they went to Brighton to study photography, “which felt like heaven” according to the photographer, they got to photograph new people they loved. “I love the effortlessness of a beautiful portrait, the power in the subtlety and the quietness,” she explains. Photography naturally led the artist to filmmaking, where she claims there exist similarities in the way she looks for genuine, human connections and humour, “and blur real life with feelings that are slightly surreal or from a fabulous parallel universe.”
“Dykes and queer culture!” inspire Lydia’s current style. “I feel lucky to be able to experience the humour and shared joy of queer community. I love the agelessness of queer fashion and style, signals, in-jokes and the reworking of tropes.” Lydia described their current style as lesbian camp; she has a desire to tell “funny, sexy, camp, lesbian stories.” An admirer of classics of the genre like But I'm A Cheerleader, Dykes To Watch Out For and Bound, Lydia claims that “camp is everywhere if your eyes are open to it.” Almost all of her work spans the queer community, even the commercial work. One of Us for Nike, for example, was about the inclusion of queer, trans and non-binary players in grassroots football. And Stonewall Housing: Polari features stunning glammed up voguers in a field for the launch of Polari beer.
GalleryLydia Garnett: Akshay (Copyright © Lydia Garnett)
“In most of the TV and film I saw as a young person,” Lydia continues, “dykes were never really seen positively, so naturally I want to combat those representations and show how funny and fabulous they are to me.” Lydia’s most recent film Lonely Cowgirl is one they’re particularly proud of, which they directed for their band Trouble Wanted. “The song is a lesbian romance that tells the story of a Cowgirl at a fantasy bar who meets a Dyke trucker of her dreams,” she explains. “As a band, we wrote the song fully understanding the desires and emotions of the characters, which is what made the video so genuine, funny and engaging. The video won the LGBTQ+ Iris Community Prize, was nominated for Best Music Video at Raindance and swept up nominations at several other festivals.
When starting her creative process, Lydia likes to have a clear idea of what the project will be. “I’ll ask myself how I can put my stamp on it, and how it can be camp, genuine and accessible. Once I have an idea I’ll think about what needs to be in place and how I can communicate this to a team to realise the vision down to every detail.”
Lydia’s most recent project is a portrait of Finn, the founder of Both&, “an amazing clothing brand and community that designs for trans-masculine and gender non-conforming people,” Lydia claims. The film tells the story of Finn’s personal experiences and creates a space for the viewer to listen.” The format is “intentionally free, timeless and without constraints,” says the filmmaker, “it isn’t an ad, it simply exists as a piece of honest and unfiltered storytelling. The film features music from one of my favourite artists Sasha Wilde.” Finn himself described it as “a short, fresh breath of air, at once reaching deep into the roots of a singular trans man’s experience while simultaneously opening up the conversation around what we all share, rather than what separates us.”
On the daily, it’s music, DIY art and film, events and queer experiences – such as the recent BodyMovements festival – playing gigs in “great bars” with her band to “gorgeous queer audiences,” and seeing her friends achieve “great things” which inspire Lydia to keep creating. Next, they’ll be directing a music video for the band Ghum, and she tells us that “Trouble Wanted just recorded three more tracks so I imagine there will be more videos coming soon!”
Lydia Garnett: Orny and Marie (Copyright © Lydia Garnett, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.